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Television Programmes

Volume 979: debated on Thursday 28 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now make further funds available for improving reception and choice for viewers of independent television programmes.

No, Sir. The Government have no plans to alter the existing arrangements under which the IBA provides the ITV service at no cost to public funds. We believe that the IBA's engineering resources and the very limited UHF frequency channels should be used to extend UHF television cover to those parts of the United Kingdom which are as yet without it and to provide for a service on the fourth channel rather than to provide some areas with a choice of service from two or more ITV companies.

Is the Minister aware that I regard that as an unsatisfactory reply? Is he aware also that my constituents in Swindon are utterly dissatisfied with the service that they receive from the Midlands-based ATV company, which is notorious for its bad service to peripheral areas? Can he do nothing at all to satisfy the overwhelming demand by my constituents that they remain in the South-West and receive a service covering the town from the Bristol based South-West service?

I expected the hon. Gentleman to be a little disappointed with my reply. I recognise that many living in Swindon might prefer to receive HTV programmes. However, I can find no ground for making an exception to the general policy in their favour. I believe that the sense of priorities that I have stated is right.

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is desirable, on social grounds, that independent television and radio programmes should be receivable, as far as possible, in all parts of the country? In that context, will he undertake to give special consideration to the plans for independent local radio in South-West Scotland?

I understand my hon. Friends point, but his request about radio programmes in South-West Scotland does not arise on this question.

In view of the widening choice and facilities in radio, is citizens band radio coming nearer?

I must ask my hon. Friend to await a statement from the Government on that matter.